2014 NBA Draft: The Biggest Ripple Effects of the Lottery

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

2014 NBA Draft: The Biggest Ripple Effects of the Lottery

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    All that time invested, all that energy expended, and now it's over.

    The 2014 NBA draft lottery has come and gone, and it's taking the pingpong balls with it, leaving us to sort through the mess of ripple effects it has created.

    Make no mistake, the actual draft matters. Trades are struck, careers are forged, and futures are born. But determining the draft order means something too.

    Draft positioning is everything. It defines a team's direction, opens and closes a variety of possibilities and paves the way for what we see between now and June 26, when the actual draft takes place.

    Never before have pingpong balls had so much staying power.

    Enjoy it. Or fear it. 

    Your call.  

Minnesota Has Some Trading to Do

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    "At this point, we're not talking to any teams," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters. "I haven't heard from Kevin or his agents or anything like that. We're assuming that Kevin will be here next season, and we're working with that scenario."

    Yeah, that has to change. Like now.

    Trading Kevin Love is going to be difficult. Actually, let's not play coy: It's going to suck.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves have invested six years in him. Six postseason-less years. He's a superstar. A double-double monster that other double-double monsters are scared of. We get it. But with 2015 free agency looming and Love set to leave, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the time to capitalize off his departure is now.

    At least two teams within the top six of the draft will be open to moving their picks. According to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett, the Boston Celtics are interested in using their No. 6 pick in a deal for Love. Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer says the Cavs haven't ruled out trading the No. 1 overall selection either. 

    Draft picks will be an essential aspect of any package. As starting points for rebuilds, they always are. And what better time to snatch one than now, ahead of the deepest draft class since 2003?

    Fielding offers from fellow lottery teams holds an ulterior purpose, of course. It forces competing teams to up the ante. The Golden State Warriors might be more willing to relinquish Klay Thompson in any Love deal if they know the Cavs are preparing to forfeit a shot at Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid. The Chicago Bulls might start raining multiple first-rounders on Minnesota if they see the Celtics are trying to do the same.

    Think of the possibilities, Minnesota. 

    Then actualize them.

There's Hope for Cleveland Yet

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    The playoff gods don't smile down upon the Cleveland Cavaliers often, but the pingpong gods are always beaming for some reason.

    For the third time in the last four years—and the second year in a row—the Cavs won the lottery. They only had a 1.7 percent chance of landing that first pick, and they still won. Again.

    Now they have the chance to add another elite talent via the draft. Again.

    Cleveland can also trade its first overall pick for an established star like, I don't know, Mr. Kevin Love. 

    With the Cavs open to trading the No. 1 pick, Boyer says they're a threat to go all-in on the three-time All-Star. And if they fail, well, drafting one of Wiggins, Parker or Embiid is a solid backup plan.

    This year's pick has given the Cavs renewed hope. LeBron James could be more likely to come home, what with his former team ready to draft or trade for a stud. 

    Unlikely? Yes. But it's possible. Anything feels possible. Love could even be seen as more than a one-year rental. That's the type of optimism Cleveland is parenting right now.

    The Cavs' rebuilding process has been given new life and hope. General manager David Griffin just has to be sure he doesn't screw it up Chris Grant-style.

Mystery Continues to Abound

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    Which player will be selected first overall?

    We have no idea. We don't even know which team will have that pick come draft day technically. The Cavs made sure of that. 

    The lottery could have provided some clarity. If the Utah Jazz had won, you'd know for sure they wouldn't be taking Embiid. If another team had won, it might not be so open to trading it away. 

    Yet the Cavs won instead. Now we're not sure who will go first. 

    Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com says the Cavs are leaning toward Embiid. That coincides with the thinking of Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, who has Cleveland taking Embiid in his latest mock draft. We would be remiss, though, not to admit things could change.

    Wiggins is worthy of the top pick. So is Parker. The Cavs could use either one. They have a need for Embiid too. They could also trade the pick, making this someone else's (pleasant) dilemma. We just don't know.

    Thanks for nothing, lottery.

The Draft Is Boston's Oyster

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    No, the Celtics did not vault into the top three. 

    Yes, general manager Danny Ainge was disappointed.

    No, the Celtics don't know what they're going to do with the No. 6 pick yet.

    Yes, they do know it will involve setting the NBA draft on fire.

    Landing at No. 6 opens the Celtics to a world of possibilities. They have picks, they have talent, they have the ability to assume lengthy contracts, and they have a Franklin costume for Rajon Rondo to dress up in on Halloween. They have it all. 

    By draft night, having it all could mean the Celtics stand pat, move up, move down or trade for a superstar. Take it away, Bulpett:

    Having slipped one spot to sixth in the draft in last night’s NBA lottery, a move that coincided with the odds, the Celts will now dive headlong into the trade market in an attempt to see if they can accelerate their reconstruction project. They will look at all available targets, Love among them...

    In that Ainge is open to all possibilities, among them will be seeing what a package that includes both first rounders would be worth, whether it can move the Celts higher or, through the picks alone or in combination with players under contract, attract a high caliber player that another team may be willing to move...like, oh, say, someone like Kevin Love.

    Trading for Love sounds good. Drafting someone awesome at No. 6 sounds perfect. Moving up sounds spectacular as well. Selecting a future stud with the Brooklyn Nets' first-rounder and then engaging in some good ol' fashion tongue-wagging also sounds great.

    Life in Boston is just peachy keen at the moment. Whatever the Celtics wish to do—accelerate their rebuild, delve deeper into their rebuild, etc.—they have the tools to do it.

The Pistons Are Still Screwed...

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    Stan Van Gundy has his work cut out him with the Detroit Pistons...still.

    Pawning Ben Gordon's enormous contract off on the Charlotte Hornets (R.I.P. Bobcats) came back to bite the Pistons Tuesday night. Charlotte owns the right to Detroit's first-rounder this year. If it fell outside the top eight, the Pistons would have lost it. 

    It fell to ninth.

    So they lost it.

    Every team could use a first-round pick, but the Pistons really needed this one. Anything that can help them add some outside shooting would be huge. They finished 29th in three-point conversion rate this past season (32.1 percent), which is awful. And unsurprising.

    Not much more can be expected of a team that ran with lane-clogging presences like Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. It was a nightmare. A top-eight pick—that they could have perhaps used on lethal-shooting Doug McDermott—would have gone a long way in helping Van Gundy make sense of this chaotic roster.  

    Hopefully, this is the last contribution Gordon will be making to the Pistons.

...The Hornets Are Not

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    It's good to be the Bobcats Hornets.

    Wait, what?

    Times are a changing in Charlotte, and I'm not just talking about the team name. After making the playoffs for just the second time in their existence, the newly minted Hornets are sitting supermodel pretty. 

    Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist make for a good core. Their defense is solid. Their coach Steve Clifford is remarkable.

    Oh, yeah: They have two first-round draft picks.

    Courtesy of the Pistons, the Hornets will receive the ninth overall pick in addition to the No. 24 selection gifted to them by the Portland Trail Blazers. Not bad for a postseason team. Not bad at all.

    All that's left for them to do is draft McDermott at No. 9, rub it in Detroit's face and ready themselves for a season that, quite possibly, could be way better than the one they just wrapped up.

No Movement for Los Angeles

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    Conspiracy theorists were shocked to see the Los Angeles Lakers didn't win the lottery. The Lakers were just plain crestfallen.

    Although the chances of the Lakers shooting up the draft board were slim, they held out hope for a lottery-night surge. They received a lottery-night dip instead. 

    The Lakers—who had the regular season's sixth-worst record—fell to seventh overall. In lottery-speak, that's code for: Kevin Love, we barely knew you.

    Turning one top-three pick into a superstar was always an unrealistic endeavor. Selecting at No. 7 makes it impossible.

    Never fear, though. Silver Screen and Roll's Drew Garrison reminds us that the Lakers are still in pretty darn good shape: 

    The knee jerk was instant disappointment, but really, the Lakers aren't in a much worse position than they were heading into the night. They'll still be in the mix for the trio of forwards in Gordon, Vonleh and Randle while also still being able to reach for Marcus Smart if they want to address a backcourt position. The real disappointment would have been free falling to the eighth or ninth spot where they wind up with the leftovers in that group. Instead, they'll be in line to have options.

    Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart aren't Wiggins, Parker and Embiid, but they're gifted prospects who should be able to make instant contributions of some kind.

    Let the lesson, then, be that drafting at No. 7 isn't the end of the world. It's the beginning of something that can still be awesome, not to mention keep Kobe Bryant from killing general manager Mitch Kupchak with his death stare.

    Also, for what it's worth, Stephen Curry was selected seventh overall in 2009. I hear he panned out well.